Gov. Paul LePage will hold a “town hall-style” meeting in Westbrook next Wednesday as he attempts to build public support for the sweeping changes to Maine’s tax code built into his budget proposal.

The forum – scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center – is the first of several public appearances planned by the Republican governor in the coming weeks as he advocates for an ambitious budget that faces a difficult road ahead in the Legislature.

The governor is expected to answer questions from the crowd alongside the director of his Office of Policy and Management, Jonathan LaBonte, who is also mayor of Auburn.

“The governor would like to hear from the people and answer their questions,” LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said Wednesday. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to talk directly to the governor about how this budget will impact them.”

LePage is likely to hear a broad range of reactions.

Emboldened by his re-election last November, LePage has proposed cutting income taxes, reducing the corporate tax and eliminating the estate tax. But in order to pay for those cuts, LePage wants to increase Maine’s sales tax from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent and apply it to hundreds more goods and services – changes the administration contends will shift Maine toward a consumption-based tax code that captures more tourist dollars.

While the administration says most taxpayers will see more money in their pockets, critics contend the proposal will largely benefit the wealthy while saddling many homeowners with higher property taxes.

Municipal officials are raising concerns that LePage’s related plan to eliminate revenue sharing will only drive up local property taxes as towns struggle to pay for fire and police departments, road repairs and other municipal services. A former Waterville mayor, LePage is striking an increasingly aggressive tone toward municipalities that he accuses of failing to curtail spending.

Comments are no longer available on this story